THE AFRICAN UNION: A VERITABLE PROGENY OF PAN-AFRICANISM

  • Both as a philosophy and a movement, Pan-Africanism from the
    days of William Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, George Padmore and their
    like-minded contemporaries right down to the Founding Leaders of
    the OAU continued to linger on and inspire and spur generations of
    Africans into concrete action But as any detailed recounting of the
    ancient history of the Pan-Africanist Movement would require a forum
    and space much wider than what this piece can cover, we should
    make do with a resumé that seeks to capture some of the features
    characterizing the construction and subsequent actualization of the
    African Union which to all intents and purposes is a natural progeny
    of Pan-Africanism traced back to the yesteryear’s of the first African
    awakening It was indeed against the backdrop of the burning desire to revive that
    Pan-African spirit that the idea of creating an African Union as a minimum
    requirement of total continental unity and integration resurfaced
    It was, however spearheaded this time around by the Libyan Leader
    Muammar Gaddafi and fortunately resonated well with his peers As
    it was an idea whose time had then arrived Africa’s detractors could
    do very little to stem the tide of its resurgence Therefore, despite the
    disparaging innuendoes of those Afro-pessimists and the frail misgivings
    of the doubting Thomases from within coupled with all the other
    odds, collective Africa at long last made history during its epoch-ushering
    in Summit in the Indian Ocean City of Durban on 9 July 2002 It
    was there that our leaders took the bull by the horn, thus crossing the
    politico-ideological Rubicon into the proclamation of the ultimate birth
    of the African Union on the debris of its predecessor the Organisation
    of African Unity By exhibiting that rare single feat of unity of purpose,
    direction and destiny the present crop of African leaders were able to
    bring their continent and its otherwise disparate nations much closer
    to allowing the wildest dream of Pan-African pioneers in the calibre
    of Osgeyfo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Julius Nyerere and theirilk to come to pass There can be no gainsaying that the launch of the African Union in the
    manner described herein with all the pomp and pageantry that accompanied
    the occasion was a single act that undoubtedly marked a
    spectacular, but still a defining moment in the annals of the continent’s
    incessant search for self-assertion through the pursuit of a greater solidarity
    and a higher level of integration and cooperation in all walks
    of life that cut right across the borders inherited from the erstwhile
    colonial masters. The Constitutive Act serving as the legal linchpin
    of the Union edifice, has provided the requisite organs and institutions
    capable of causing the hitherto nascent Union to morph far beyond
    a mere declaration of intent by word of mouth into a broader and
    more efficacious and all-embracing continental organization already
    standing on its feet. The Pan-African Parliament the African Court on
    Human and Peoples Rights the African Investment Bank, the African
    Monetary Fund, among other organs, were all deliberately created to
    render the new reality of a continent determined to further consolidate
    its new Union status and gains both incontrovertible and irreversible.
    The central role of the Regional Economic Communities as the building
    blocks of the Union, the Civil Society Organisations and the African
    THE AFRICAN UNION: Directorate of Conference Management and Publications (DCMP)
    Diaspora in making this mammoth goal achievable was not lost either
    on the leadership of the Union That done the leadership of AU Commission in tandem with the duly accredited representatives of Member States acting within the framework of the equally nascent policy organs, got down to the business
    of actual Union building and operationalization as well as institutional
    transformation viewed as a sine qua non for the visible functionality
    of this replacement umbrella institution. This therefore explains why
    these institutions had to be further buttressed and harmonized for the
    effective discharge of their exacting mandate predicated on the mission
    and vision of the Union This way the Union was able to take off swiftly and efficiently, albeit traversing the bumpy road of getting to the stage it is today, where
    it can conveniently be said to have come of age in terms of defining
    Africa’s politico-economic integration, cooperation and development
    agenda at both regional and continental planes All that now remains
    to be pursued rigorously is the accelerated and effective implementation
    of this agenda which is well-articulated in the successive strategic
    plans of the Union That the challenge ahead is daunting even for a continent so determined is an understatement Africa must, therefore, mobilise its full
    potentials and marshal the formidable human and material resources
    it is endowed with, to rise to that challenge with a view to enabling the
    Union to forge ahead with the implementation of its huge mandate,
    particularly in the all-important twin areas of trans- border infrastructural
    development and Intra-Africa Trade promotion, thereby reducing
    in an exponential fashion the continent’s excessive reliance on external
    hand-outs for its own development. Parallel to that, is the need
    for the continent to make its dependency on external funding of its
    programmes both at the level of the African Union Commission and
    individual Member States, as it seems to be the case now a thing of
    the remote past, if the continent were to make it to the promised land
    of the much-talked about self-reliance whilst maintaining genuine partnership
    with the outside world One surest way of doing so is having a paradigm shift in its existing partnerships with other nations and institutions, whereby there can be
    a more balanced and mutually beneficial arrangement instead of the
    continent remaining on the receiving end in these partnerships Africa
    as we all can bear witness, can, with all the potential and resources it is
    thankfully blessed with, still offer other regions of the world a lot in this
    respect. But as the first point of departure the continent must place
    greater premium on South-South cooperation with particular emphasis
    on its partnerships with India, China, South Korea, Turkey, the South
    American States etc Certainly both Africa and these natural partners
    stand to gain far greater long-term dividends from such balanced partnerships
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